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tv   NBC Bay Area News at 4  NBC  September 9, 2011 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT

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[ sirens ] >> multiple houses. >> we just heard a big boom. just one but loud. >> my house is right there next to those telephone poles. >> we just ran for our life. >> chaos and confusion in the moments after a massive explosion changed a bay area community forever. at first, no one knew what caused the blast. >> there's a plane down. we're getting the full response started. >> but it soon became apparent it was not a plane crash but a
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huge pipeline blast. a 30-inch pg&e pipeline exploded with unbelievable force, hurling a chunk of pipe 75 feet into the middle of the street. >> this site behind us is one that has been an open wound for this communities now. >> the aftermath was devastating. eight people killed, 38 homes destroyed, 58 people injured. >> just want to get back home. >> now one year later, pg&e is at the center of a criminal and government investigation over pipeline safety. >> today you're going to hear some troubling revelations about a company that exploited weaknesses in a lax safety system. >> for families who lost everything, the one-year anniversary of the san bruno fire is a time for remembrance and recovery. >> good afternoon, i'm janelle wang. >> i'm raj mathai. we are about two hours away from the exact moment that that pipeline exploded last year,
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literally wiping out an bay area neighborhood. >> over the next hour we'll show how the families and city are recovering. we'll ask some tough questions and investigate how a pg&e pipeline could have exploded in the first place and what could have been done to prevent it. >> first and foremost, september 9, 2010, is about the families in san bruno. every home in the crestmore neighborhood has a different story. we're grateful to these families who let us back into their lives, but we also respect the families who don't want to appear on camera to relive those painful memories. bob redell talked with two victims of the san bruno blast. they are recovering by rebuilding. >> reporter: when that pipeline erupted, a woman eight-months pregnant who only lived a couple of blocks away -- >> suddenly we heard this lau laulaude -- loud explosion. >> we ran for our lives. >> the kids are having nightmares again.
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>> reporter: betty still struggles with the horrors of that day. >> yeah, i'm fine. >> reporter: so does pop -- bob pelegrini, who watched hopelessly as a ball of fire hurled toward him and his family at the house in glenview. >> it really bothers me still to this day. >> did you expect to be feeling this way 12 months later? >> no. no. >> reporter: what were you expecting? >> to have my life back, you know. >> reporter: today he almost has a new place to call home. why move back? >> you know, it's a wonderful neighborhood with really wonderful people. >> reporter: the pelegrinis agreed to rebuild their dream home only after pg&e corrected the ruptured line. they along with another handful
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of families have begun actual reconstruction. >> i was hopeful to see a few more homes being built. >> reporter: 15 homeowners have deserted the neighborhood considering if not already taking buyouts from pg&e. for the mcgoulihans, it didn't make sense. >> people have perceptions that pg&e is coming in and helping rebuild. i think it's been a challenge for neighbors, they're negotiating fair prices on their properties, and they're going to move out. we really wanted to come back and make a statement. we knew we had to change the house so the kids wouldn't be traumatized. >> reporter: both families realize rebuilding comes with a price. every time they look out their windows they'll be reminded of the day their neighborhood caught fire. >> it's difficult. it's tough. our friends have left, you know, people have perished. so, you know, yeah, we're happy to be back in the neighborhood. we're happy to be building a nice house. at the same time, you're tempered by, wow. >> i'm not going to let this take away from my style of life.
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you know, the people that i've come to know and, you know, care about very much. >> that was bob redell reporting. for some, moving back just isn't possible. some families say it's too painful, there are just too many horrible memories to overcome. i spoke with the o'neil family in their first television interview since that fateful day. >> i think everybody stayed close. >> horrific tragedies sometimes break families, but for the o'neil family, the san bruno explosion and fire has made them even stronger. looking at this family from the outside, you wouldn't know what they went through just one year ago. the scars are there, both emotional and physical. >> the -- it's still naturally and looks knotted and the ropey.
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>> colleen is talking about the burns on her arms. she and her twin sister, mary, suffered second and third-degree burns. still not completely healed to this day. they along with their mother, chris, were in their glenview drive home on september 9 getting ready for dinner, waiting for dad to come home -- [ sirens ] >> when -- boom. >> we thought it was an earthquake, and we were running down the hallway. and the whole house was vibrating like -- it's like this was a train running under the house. >> as i was running through the kitchen, turned around to look at what fell. and then behind our window i just saw orange. >> that bright orange glow, a gas inferno raging hundreds of feet into the air. >> i remember a giant piece of debris falling down kind of in front of me. >> i remember thinking i hope i don't die. and i hope colleen and my mom don't die.
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>> the three didn't even have a second to put their shoes on. they just ran for their lives. ran from that suffocating and intense fire literally cooking them. >> i thought we were going to burst to flames just -- i thought we were going to combust just from the heat alone. >> some skin came off in my hand because it was just melting. >> it's painful for gene o'neil to hear this, and knowing what his family went through intensifies his anger with pg&e. >> they blew up the home with my family it in and killed our pets. now they want to haggle about the price. they don't care. it's a business. they got into there because they were watching the bottom line and the bottom line only. >> the family lost their two cats in the fire, buddy and tony. both 17 years old. ment and they lost many more irreplaceable items. cherished photos, every father's day's card the girls had given
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to their dad. antiques, every item that needs to be categorized and itemized for insurance purposes. >> they were truly one-of-a-kind pieces. and every time i have to go through the process, it ruins my day. >> when the family was allowed to search through the rubble, a couple weeks after the fire, they managed to recover a few items. a sculpture made by colleen. several quilts hidden in a burned chest but miraculously whole. and this one glass heart. it was one of many hearts gene had given his wife every valentine's day. once purple, now permanently black. the symbol still stronger than ever. the family's love intact and able to survive the most terrible of circumstances. the o'neils continue to live day by day, some good days, some crippling ones. they lift each other up in those moments and cherish the fact
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they are all still alive. >> i don't know how the people that lost family -- i don't know how they get out of bed every day. to lose your home, but then also to lose your husband or your child or your wife or your mom. i -- i mean, i see these people at the support groups and stuff, and i think i have no reason to complain. >> the o'neils have chosen not to rebuild their home in this san bruno neighborhood. too painful, too many horrible memories at this now-minute lot. they are rebuilding new ones with two newly adopted kittens. the animals bring some comfort to this family that has suffered so much. the o'neils are one of many families suing pg&e. we contacted the power company about the lawsuit. a spokeperson said while she couldn't talk specifically about
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their case, she says they continue to work with the families. if there's a dispute, they will bring in a third party to mediate. we also talked with pg&e's outgoing president, chris johns, about accusations that his company has been difficult for the victims to deal with. >> we apologize to the citizens and the victims of san bruno, and we know that no matter what we say or actions we take, it can never make up for the tragic losses that they have suffered. >> you'll hear much more from johns a little bit later as he talks one on one with our own vicky nguyen and responds to the scathing criticism toward pg&e. there are families whose homes were not destroyed, but even so, their spirits were devastated. and moving back into that neighborhood is proving to be too much. >> the home's foundation may still physically be there, but for the ashley family, a fresh start allowed them to stay strong. semont street.somewhel. from the outside, it looks like
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a typical house in a typical neighborhood, and it was. until that day one year ago. >> all of a sudden the power went out. then there was this huge explosion. >> kevin ashley was at home with his two young kids, jaden and calia, when the pipeline exploded. >> i decided we've got to get out of here because one window was orange, one window was black. another window was black. >> kevin's wife, michelle, a former colleague of ours here at nbc bay area, was driving home. she, too, saw the explosion and immediately called. >> it just goes to voicemail. i call him again, and it just goes to voicemail. that's when i started to panic. whatever was happening, it was somehow affecting our phone system. >> i looked to my left, and a sea of orange fire is coming down the street. you see people running.
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>> kevin and his kids made it out. >> i didn't even think we were going to outrun it. a miracle. >> not without injury. >> somewhere along the whole process, calia hit her head on the doorway. so then she had all this blood coming everywhere. i would hear that sound of her head hitting the doorway like for month afterwards. i still hear it now. it's not as loud. >> the 11 stitches on calia's head would heal, but the scars remain. both physically and emotionally. >> can't even put into words what that feeling is. i would say even up until now but not to the same extent. but it's very difficult for me to leave them anywhere. >> that's why as much as the ashleys love this neighborhood -- >> it seemed safe. it seemed tucked away in its own neighborhood. never did i think a year later
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that it would have been -- it would have killed us almost, you know. >> it was too difficult to move back so they decided to leave. >> as a parent, you can't really guarantee -- you know, here was a quiet neighborhood. you never thought it would happen. i can't tell them, oh, don't worry. it will never happen again. i couldn't even have confidence to tell them. it wouldn't happen again. >> i didn't want to be forced out or pressed out of the situation. the more and more as each day went by and see how the kids react to go there, seeing the burned out cars, stairways, and just the destruction, i mean, out your front window, i realized that there was no way we could come back here. >> but kevin did stay one more night in his san bruno home. >> just for my own sanity just because i didn't -- i wanted to
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leave on my terms. it was more of a spiritual-type experience. and fearful at the same time. >> now the ashleys live in south san francisco, only about five miles away from san bruno. but not a day goes by without thinking about the explosion and the eight lives that were lost. >> just because i'm not there doesn't mean that they're not on my mind. they're niagara fal-- they're a thoughts. >> the only thing that's change sudden where we live. i do everything in the area. so -- even though we moved, it took kwoil for me to adjust. >> therapy has helped the ashleys, but they're still hurting. it's hard to disguise the pain. >> i'm angry that people died. i'm angry that people are injured. i am angry that so many people
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lost their homes. i'm angry that many children lost their innocence. >> what is lost can also be found. and in this case, they found some amazing support and love for which they are thankful. thankful for their friend, family, and strangers who helped them in a time of need. >> i mean, there was a rural school in hollister that did a penny fundraiser for us. and, you know, i mean, that's so touching. >> i guess what i learned from that is you just have to do good to other because you never know when you'll need for someone to do good to you. >> once again, michelle ashley, a long-time colleague of ours in the nbc newsroom, we're thrilled that she, kevin, and the kids are rebuilding their lives. there's a memorial and rebrans at skyline college in san bruno. the ashley family will be there. kevin tells us while he's not
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looking forward to it, it's good to be around people who can understand their feelings without saying any words. >> that memorial will serve to bring together survivors, but tell also serve as a tribute for the eight lives lost. >> they were grandmothers and grandchildren, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. here now, a glimpse into their lives. ♪
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and you'll get a bonus. you get 10% off your groceries. [ male announcer ] save 10% on your groceries when you get a flu shot. that should make you feel better already. safeway. ingredients for life. the pipeline explosion that leveled the crestmore community also destroyed the confidence the bay area has in the gas lines running under many of our homes. >> the pressing question for so many of us -- what's next and what's being done here.
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the ntsb just issued its report on what caused the pipe to fail. the report is scathing and provides a long list of changes pg&e and the california puc must make. our vicky weekend went to washington, d.c., to speak with the ntsb investigators and to meet one on one with pg&e's top man, chris johns. the amount of gas pouring from this pipeline could have powered every home in the entire city of san bruno for a month. according to ntsb investigators, it didn't have to. >> the company that exploited weaknesses doish. >> they say if pg&e had installed shutoff valves on the lines, the gas could have been shut off in 30 minutes instead of an hour and a half. valuable time that may have saved some of the eight lives or homes lost on september 9, 2010. >> the san bruno accident was a watershed accident for the pipeline industry. >> ntsb chair debry hersman says
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pg&e waited ten months to tell investigators about a prior leak on the same pipe nine miles south of the rupture site. she says it's an example of the utility's poor recordkeeping and reluctance to cooperate with investigators. >> we got a number of different answers dependsing on who we asked. >> this is the 28-foot section of pipe that opened like a zipper, exploding with such force it landed 100 feet away. investigators scrutinized every inch of the lane and found faulty welds connecting sections of steel that didn't meet safety specs. >> the welds were substandard by today's terms and also in 1956 terms. >> investigators also focused on the size of the pipe. you can see at 30 inches, it is big enough for an inspector to get inside and spot any potential problems. >> pg&e had the responsibility -- >> the ntsb concluded, "a litany of failures by pg&e made it a matter of when not if the line would explode," and says while pg&e invested millions in smartmeters to benefit its
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bottom line, it did little to heed the warnings from previous explosions in san francisco and rancho cordova. >> we're focused on how can we learn from the experiences and what the facts are that they found and integrate them into how we evaluate your pipeline and make sure that it's safe. >> pg&e's president chris johns admits they need to change the emergency response. chairman described it as people running around, chaos. no one knew what was going on in the critical moments after the fire started. do you think that was the situation? >> i think our team of evaluating the situation as best they could. as i said, you know, it -- in retrospect it is -- it is one of those where we can see that there are a lot of improvements that need to be made. i realize in today's world that we're not in a position to let our words do the talking. it has to be our actions. and so it is the actions that we're taking to reduce pressure, to replace pipe, to do hydrostatic testing, to do more
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leak evaluations. >> cpuc didn't escape blame either. the ntsb says the regulator put blind trust in pg&e instead of protecting the public. pg&e failed. what about cpuc. were they asleep at the switch? >> absolutely they were asleep at the switch. they were a rubberstamp regulator. and it was clear by the nature of the kinds of audits that they did. they were desk audits, they were not in the field. they basically allowed pg&e to operate with its various plans in place that, frankly, couldn't hold water. >> a lot of recommendations by the ntsb. obviously many years before. they were recommendation that's weren't followed. >> among the ntsb recommendations -- require utilities to disclose details about their gas lines to emergency response agencies, and to equip their own crews with technology that can pinpoint the location of any leaks or line breaks. all part of a long list to improve the nation's pipeline
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safety and all useless unless they're put in place. >> that was vicky nguyen reporting. since 2002 there have been 23 incidents nationwide involving c-weld failures on natural gas pipelines including the one in san bruno. since the blast, the company has brought in new leadership. the latest change happened just last month when the company named anthony yearly as chairman, chief executive, and president. his first day is monday. pg&e's reaction to all of this has enraged so many of the residents in san bruno and really across the bay area. but as vicky mentioned, not to be forgotten is the california public utilities commission, the cpuc. many people believe the puc is the watchdog that forgot to watch. we sat down with the puc's executive director. ♪ >> in many ways it's a matter of time and distance. time is significant. took this tragedy more than 50
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years manifest. >> the analogy is we've had people out writing speeding tickets on the highways, but not noticing that the bridges were crumbling. and there's -- that's a problem throughout our infrastructure including in gas. >> distance is also revealing. just 12 miles from the site of the explosion is the headquarters of the california puc, and in this case, distance isn't just measured in mileage but rather the growing gap between the puc and pg&e. >> a litany of failures that began 50 years ago plus, and every week there are more revelations about failures by pg&e. some public and some that come up in our own investigation that will ultimately be public. it's very disappointing. >> it's an interesting reversal. for decades the puc and pg&e got along famously. in fact, critics contend they were too close for comfort, something that strikes a nerve with the puc. >> i think it's offensive and ridiculous. this regulatory body, this
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public utilities commission is a model across the united states for renewable energy policy, for energy efficiency, for the safety of the rail network, for work we do all across the board. and anybody who -- >> this is the perception, though? whether it's true or not, you know, perception is reality in many cases. the perception for many people. >> yeah. this is what i have to say to anyone with that perception -- it's wrong. the puc in california is actually held up as a model by lots of regulatory agencies as a good one. we're a tough agency. that doesn't mean we haven't made mistakes, and it doesn't mean we didn't have to change a lot of the way that we do natural gas safety work this year. but lax, give me a break. >> there was no break given to the puc. they, too, were chastised on capitol hill by the ntsb. once again, the puc simultaneously is accepting responsibility for their share of the blame, but also pointing a stern finger at pg&e. >> trust has been harmed badly. both by the san bruno accident
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and by the revelations that have come out since then in our own investigation and in the public press, as well. trust has been harmed badly. >> sometimes the reaction in the boardroom overshadows the reality on the streets. what's the reality of the crestmore neighborhood? the victims are still asking -- what are you doing for us? >> we established the policy in june that every single mile of grandfathered pipeline is going to be tested or replaced. every mile in california tested and replaced. so nobody's going to trust we the regulator, the public is not going to trust any pipeline operator who says, well, we know that this pipeline is safe. no. if it hasn't been tested, it's not safe. >> it should be noted, this is not just a job for clanen and his team. it's a mission. among the eight victims of the explosion was a long-time employee of the puc. >> it's very difficult. a friend of mine died there. >> jackie greig and her daughter
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died on that fateful september evening. in her memory the puc has built a sitting area in the frontcourtyards of its buildings. >> every single day it's personal. we lost a friend. we understand what the people in san bruno are going through because we're going through it, too. >> there's also a small gathering in remembrance of jackie grieg as we speak. i asked about paul clanen's future. he's been there for years. he says he serve at the will of the commissioners. moving on, the job of first responders is to serve and protect. >> and for san bruno police and firefighters, that oath really hit home on september 9. >> this is our town, our city. these are our people. and we are going to do everything we can to help them, protect them, rescue them, and put the fire out for them. >> when we come back, the first responders talkbotling a
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welcome back to our coverage of the san bruno fire and recovery. physically and emotionally their job is so demanding. first responders train their entire career for moments like the san bruno explosion. they were even taken back by what happened. >> it was the fight of their lives. the enormity of the explosion and fire was something they had never imagined before. kris sanchez spoke with the very first firefighter on scene. >> reporter: the fire was so immense that it looked like it was directly behind the station. >> reporter: when san bruno chief charlie baringer says that, he's not exaggerating. his station, number 52, sits on the corner of earl avenue and sneak lane just steps from the explosion. >> the fire was going across the
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rooftops of about, you know, the whole -- my whole view of crestmore, the crestmore neighborhood. >> baringer was the first responder on the scene. >> our engine company was on scene within one minute. >> we've got multiple houses -- [ sirens ] >> we have possibly several blocks on fire at this time. >> reporter: that's his voice you hear minutes after the explosion. >> came down the turn in claremont which is about a half a block from the fire and was met with just a major amount of fire, roughly 25 to 30 homes fully involved at that point. a whole row of homes. >> reporter: as a veteran first, he's seen plenty, but never
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anything like this. >> i've never seen that much terror on people's faces in my entire career. >> instinct kicked in and beringer and the other responders went to work. >> what we wanted to do was make a good stop and not let it go from bad to worse. >> but they needed water to do that. >> engine, we have no water at the hydrant! >> the force of the explosion blew up the nearest water main, something that became abundantly clear from listening to the radio dispatch. >> we're out of water. we could use some right now. >> plan b was to tap into a different water grid which firefighters did, but until they got the water flowing, cal fire fought the flames from the air. >> and right in between where we were getting water and that jet -- the tanker 86 came in and dropped in crestmore canyon. >> reporter: these two veteran firefighters have responded to countless statewide disasters, but san bruno was different. san bruno is the place they are paid to protect.
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>> this is our town. this is our city. these are our people. and we are going to do everything we can to help them. >> 2464 -- >> reporter: driving through the crestmore neighborhood is emotional for beringer. >> this is the point where one of the burn victims was running up the street. >> reporter: also healing. >> there's a lot of construction going on now. actually -- it's the most i've ever seen. these homes are -- you know, they're rebuilding, and that's so positive. that's what these people -- that's what we all need. >> reporter: a needed sight where so much was lost. >> what an amazing perspective. that was kris sanchez reporting. a couple thing stand out to me. a lot of these firefighters in san bruno are locals. they grew up right there on the peninsula, and it just hurt so much personally and professionally to have to wait for the water to fight the blaze. two things really set those people back.
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they continue to recover, as well. now, there was some hope in this. beringer actually went to the site of the rubble, he went to help victims and found a wedding band for one of the victims. that was a sign of hope for him. [ female announcer ] this is the story of joycelin...
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when the explosion first happened, no one knew what it was. one of our photojournalists who lives just two miles away knew it was something big. >> chris johanson has been with us for more than a decade. when he heard that eerie boom, high picked up his camera -- he picked up his camera and went to work, knowing he was headed into a disaster. here's his account in his own words. >> all of a sudden, off in the distance we heard that sound, that jet sound. sounded like a jet engine. and it was a jet engine full
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blast. and then the smoke, then the explosion. i just went inside, got my stuff, and went to work. it's one of those -- from the time you find out that you're going to a story that you're like, okay, this is going to be a big story. i stopped up there out of the road and walked down here because this is where the crowd was. i set up the tripod and shot, and it was right over there. couldn't police it. the fireball was huge -- couldn't nice. the fireball was huge. on 9/11, i worked that day. that was intense, but it was on the other side of the country. this was two miles from my house. then i parked at the top of the hill, got my fire gear on, and started down. the same sound i heard as when
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it started was intense. and the wall of flame with the gas exploding. i mean the flame was so big. i was starting to feel the heat. they really weren't fighting the fire because it was too huge. it was one of the first stories where i kind of saw the very beginning. i had a front row seat to a huge fire. >> chris johanson, a veteran nbc bay area news reporter and san bruno native. thank you. we're back in a moment. [ indistinct conversation ]
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tested. and if they haven't been tested, then they would have to be hydrotested, much like the pipes are being tested now in the pg&e service area. what we do know and what the ntsb made very clear is that the grandfathering in, allowing older pipes not to be subject to the same safety requirement as newer pipes is just wrong-headed. it is going in the wrong direction. and so this effort that i introduced today is one to try and get congress to listen to the ntsb and to make good on promises it has made to secure safety for all americans as it relates to pipelines. and i don't think that the efforts so far are doing that, and certainly pg&e has recognized that they were woefully inadequate in their safety preparations, and as a result this very, very terrible tragedy occurred. and now they have gotten
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religion, frankly, and they are doing all the right things. but the operators and rest of the operators across the country are not. they are fighting it. they want to retain the status quo. i'm fearful that another san bruno explosion could happen with loss of life and loss of property. >> you said pg&e is now doing the right thing. they found religion. what assurances has the company given you and other lawmakers this time around? because these ntsb recommendations, some are not new. following those previous explosions in san francisco and rancho cordova. we feel like we've heard some of these promises before. how do you know things will be different this time? >> well, the most important change is that the california public utilities commission, the regulator, is going to be doing its job. it's going to stop being a rubber stamp, and it's going to start regulating pg&e and the other operators. pg&e has agreed to put automatic and remote shutoff valves along its system in high-consequence
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areas. areas where there's a high population. that is not being required anywhere else in the country. they -- pg&e has notified everybody who's within 200 feet of a transmission line so they know precisely where it is. so they won't be subject to possibly thirty party digs that could injure the pipeline. again, that's not happening anywhere else in the country. so they are now testing, hydrostatic testing of all pipes in which they do not have any documentation. again, this is not going on anywhere else in the country. in fact, the efforts by some in the industry to restrict the department of transportation from requiring this kind of testing was included in a bill that was considered by the transportation committee in the house. an effort to really unwind what we are doing in california. >> reporter: on that note, several senators announced this week as i'm sure you know that
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they have many plans here in california to improve pipeline safety. among them, comprehensive safety plans, annual performance reviews, and also not allowing the utilities to pass these extra costs on to customers. how can congress take a page out of what's happening in california? >> well, i'm trying to make congress take a page out of what's happening in california. i, in fact, introduced the first pipeline safety bill in congress and throughout the country. it's been replicated in california, and the california public utilities commission and the state legislature have taken steps to enforce those provisions in state law. so i am actually grateful for the efforts by my colleagues in the state legislature to move that agenda forward. i would like to see us do the same thing for everyone else in the country. >> and as we know, pipeline safety not just an issue here in the bay area or in this state, but nationwide, our
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infrastructure gets older and older. congresswoman jackie speier, thank you very much for your time. >> the congresswoman from washington introducing legislation today to help keep the safety of these gas pipelines below where we live. so while she is working to change pipeline safety laws, one bay area company is changing the way we track disasters. their goal is to make it easier to respond to disasters. >> nbc bay area's scott budman spent the day at google's headquarters to see how the company's new mapping technology can help. >> if i step back in time here using the historical imagery and google earth -- >> reporter: it's an amazing set of images. the san bruno neighborhood before and after the blast -- >> was useful for the responders, for the people who were affected to see what was going on. >> reporter: christian adams is part of google's geo team working on ways to use technology in cases of emergency. >> you can also see all the shelters put up by the red cross, figure out where the closest shelter is to you. >> reporter: that software engineer pulling up real-time
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data showing how anyone can type in an address and instantly find out how close they are to an evacuation area or a flooding road. >> that's let a lot of people in new york city used this map for. >> what we've seen is that people use the internet in times of crisis -- >> reporter: that's google's mimi kravitz standing by one of google's streetview cruisers. >> seeking to make critical information more accessible in the aftermath of natural disasters. and so some of that is by leveraging existing tools like google maps and google earth and teaching response organizations how to use these tools. some of it is building new tools like a person finder. >> reporter: person finder which lets you type in a name and let the search engine help you track someone down. >> it's completely crowd source. the information comes from people in the public, and they help each other locate friends and missing loved ones in the aftermath of a disaster. >> reporter: with so many of us using mobile technology these days, it makes sense to have disaster preparedness built in.
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>> in crisis and disaster situations, we try to publish as much as possible to the public, as well, so that the people who are affected, the victims, their loved ones around the world as well as the responders and the general public who are interested, that they can find the information they're looking for. >> that was scott budman reporting. what's interesting here, scott was saying the people at google were saying this is not necessarily a new technology, a new version of their mapping technology. they started this in response to the earthquake in haiti in 2010. after the san bruno explosion, they've just developed more technology to make it better. >> very interesting. when it comes to crisis situation, san bruno's city manager has been in crisis modes for the last year. >> it's been a tough year for the family and for the community as a whole. >> where she sees tragedy and heartache, she also sees hope. how the san bruno city manager is helping her city rebuild when
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we come back.
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the deadly explosion put san bruno on the map for all the wrong reasons, but so much more defines the city of about 42,000 people. >> it's a quiet and hard-working community. the blast may have changed the city, but it didn't wipe out its spirit. here's nbc bay area's marla tellez. >> reporter: as the fog rolls over the san bruno hills and the wind picks up in the glenview neighborhood, so does the rebuilding process. >> it's exciting to see the houses and taking form -- >> reporter: it's a neighborhood connie jackson knows well. she visits it at least once a week. she's done so since the night that forever changed the city she manages. [ sirens ] >> i was at city hall.
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i was meeting with a couple of my staff. and we -- we heard the explosion -- >> reporter: from el camino royale she saw the sky-high flames that charred cars, destroyed homes, and took lives. >> it was mass confusion and chaos in those first moment. >> reporter: the infamous pipeline explosion also meant connie's role as city manager would never quite be the same. her days are now consumed with keeping up with pg&e and keeping in touch with the neighborhood. >> it's been a tough year for the families and for the community as a whole. >> reporter: today a quiet calm lingers here, and dried roses and a teddy bear hang in loving memory on claremont street. inside city hall, another touching tribute. >> our prayers and thoughts are with you during these hard times. >> reporter: home made cards written by schoolchildren are on display even a year later.
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>> this is just a small sampling of how it community has come together and really demonstrated its strength. >> reporter: that sense of strength and community is evident in these black and whites. this is san bruno in the 1920s. about 30 years before the glenview neighborhood was born. hammers and hard work built a community then, and it's apparent the same combination is proving successful again. >> this house right over here was the location of our first groundbreaking. >> reporter: currently, seven homes are being built, and the city is reviewing plans for another handful. >> i think there's a sense of optimism and -- and rebirth that's emerging. i like the sign here. the grays are coming back and building green. >> reporter: not every family affected by the tragedy is coming back. the explosion damaged just over 100 homes including the 38 that were destroyed. and you can see some are still
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under repair today. jackson says six homeowners have chosen not to return. >> you know, i think it's going to be a long time until we're back to where we were before. >> reporter: considering san bruno's slogan is "the city with a heart." there's little doubt it will make a comeback in due time. >> i think that san bruno will be stronger than ever. >> that was marla tellez reporting. i remember this time last year, many of the san francisco giants were affected. pablo sandoval and andres torres were san bruno residents and former giants manager dusty baker still owns a home in san bruno. now the city officials say the homeowners in the glenview neighborhood each received $10,000 from pg&e even if their home was unaffected. but it should be noted, dozens g
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we're back in a moment.
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this is skyline college in
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san bruno. a remembrance ceremony will start in about an hour. many of the neighbors, first responders, and city leaders are here for what will undoubtedly be an emotional reunion. people we've talked to say it will be good to see familiar faces, and some of these people haven't seen each mother about a year. this community went through a terrible tragedy, but tonight's ceremony gives them a chance to heal just a little bit and to come together. we invite you to stay with us for continuing coverage. we'll have a live report on this memorial in just a few minutes from now on our 5:00 newscast. and tonight at 6:00, remembering the victims of september 11. as we approach the 10th anniversary, we will have many bay area stories coming from new york where our own jessica aguirre will be reporting live. and garvin thomas will be live in shanksville, pennsylvania, where he's connecting with many bay area families who lost loved ones on united flight 93. we hope you'll join us for that. >> thanks for being with us this afternoon for this special hour of stories centered on the people, our neighbors, who lived through and died on this tragic night one year ago.
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like all of them, we continue to look forward, finding safer ways to live. we'd like to again extend our heartfelt gratitude to the families who opened their hearts and homes so we could bring you their stories of remembrance and recovery.
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>> good night.

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